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Francesco

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5

Brush-up on Business Concepts

Recently during a mock interview that the firm set up to help me prepare for my final round, the intervewer adviced me to brush up on business concepts before my finl round which is in 2 days. The reason for that is that when he asked me about sources of funding I couldn't come up with one since I am not a business or MBA student, I hold an engineering degree. Any advice on where to quickly look at business or economy concepts for non business students prior to an interview?

Recently during a mock interview that the firm set up to help me prepare for my final round, the intervewer adviced me to brush up on business concepts before my finl round which is in 2 days. The reason for that is that when he asked me about sources of funding I couldn't come up with one since I am not a business or MBA student, I hold an engineering degree. Any advice on where to quickly look at business or economy concepts for non business students prior to an interview?

(edited)

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Hi Anonymous,

there are several sources to develop a deeper knowledge of business concepts (economics books, industry reports, blogs). However, given you have limited time available, I would focus on the following:

  1. identify which are the most challenging concepts/industries for you. Chances are you find more challenging specific industries/topics. Try to identify the main ones based on your current case practice.
  2. find some good consulting MBA handbooks. You can easily find several good ones online for free (eg Insead)
  3. filter the handbooks by the topic interesting for you and do/read the cases. Don’t focus on the structure (usually they are not particular good in these handbooks) but rather on the concepts present in the case. Track all the terminology/concepts that are challenging for you.
  4. once identified concepts you don’t understand, look for more specific resources on that online. If for example you identify it is challenging for you to understand how the typical value chain for an industrial goods company is structured, you can easily find a good structure for it in a 10-minute online search. If you start from reading a book on industrial goods companies, you will of course cover that as well, but also tens of other topics that are not of interest, and spend 4-5 hours instead of 10 mins. This will allow thus to pinpoint the exact areas you have to improve in terms of brainstorming in the case.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

there are several sources to develop a deeper knowledge of business concepts (economics books, industry reports, blogs). However, given you have limited time available, I would focus on the following:

  1. identify which are the most challenging concepts/industries for you. Chances are you find more challenging specific industries/topics. Try to identify the main ones based on your current case practice.
  2. find some good consulting MBA handbooks. You can easily find several good ones online for free (eg Insead)
  3. filter the handbooks by the topic interesting for you and do/read the cases. Don’t focus on the structure (usually they are not particular good in these handbooks) but rather on the concepts present in the case. Track all the terminology/concepts that are challenging for you.
  4. once identified concepts you don’t understand, look for more specific resources on that online. If for example you identify it is challenging for you to understand how the typical value chain for an industrial goods company is structured, you can easily find a good structure for it in a 10-minute online search. If you start from reading a book on industrial goods companies, you will of course cover that as well, but also tens of other topics that are not of interest, and spend 4-5 hours instead of 10 mins. This will allow thus to pinpoint the exact areas you have to improve in terms of brainstorming in the case.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Hi,

Here is the tip:

For every case that you do in a particular industry - download 3-5 Public Companies reports for investors and go through them. Google every concept that you don't know. It'll help you a lot.

Most common industries - FMCG, Retail, Airlines, Banking

Best!

Hi,

Here is the tip:

For every case that you do in a particular industry - download 3-5 Public Companies reports for investors and go through them. Google every concept that you don't know. It'll help you a lot.

Most common industries - FMCG, Retail, Airlines, Banking

Best!

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These things are what we call business judgement or intuition. A general understanding of what drives businesses across sectors and the ability to transfer this to new sectors taht you have not worked with.

Typically making these connections, especially if they are far, is not required to pass to the next round or get an offer, but they give you extra points and might balance out issues in other areas (e.g. the quant part.)

To build this level of deep understanding, you can read business newspapers and case studies conscously. Make it a habit to read the business sections of FT or Economist and reflect on the underlying issues. Read case studies on interesting dynamics of random industries to gradually build an understanding of what typical drivers are. Things like:

  • What are typical customer segments and which are more attractive for the business to please?
  • Is the industry driven by fixed or variable costs and how does this influence decision making?
  • What are typical power structures along the value chain (e.g. monopoly in raw materials) and how does this effect the relationship between players?
  • Is the business dependent on/subject to strong government regulation or do they long for a free, unregulated market?

There are many more of these questions that help you build this intuition and eventually can provide interesting insights into a case, even if not explicitly mentioned by the interviewer.

These things are what we call business judgement or intuition. A general understanding of what drives businesses across sectors and the ability to transfer this to new sectors taht you have not worked with.

Typically making these connections, especially if they are far, is not required to pass to the next round or get an offer, but they give you extra points and might balance out issues in other areas (e.g. the quant part.)

To build this level of deep understanding, you can read business newspapers and case studies conscously. Make it a habit to read the business sections of FT or Economist and reflect on the underlying issues. Read case studies on interesting dynamics of random industries to gradually build an understanding of what typical drivers are. Things like:

  • What are typical customer segments and which are more attractive for the business to please?
  • Is the industry driven by fixed or variable costs and how does this influence decision making?
  • What are typical power structures along the value chain (e.g. monopoly in raw materials) and how does this effect the relationship between players?
  • Is the business dependent on/subject to strong government regulation or do they long for a free, unregulated market?

There are many more of these questions that help you build this intuition and eventually can provide interesting insights into a case, even if not explicitly mentioned by the interviewer.

Book a coaching with Clara

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Instead of a study plan, I would make a practice plan with different types of cases, would get you there faster

Instead of a study plan, I would make a practice plan with different types of cases, would get you there faster

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